In one of the oldest remaining industrial buildings still standing in Hoboken, the Fund for a Better Waterfront hosted an open house where their main goal was to inform residents why Union Dry Dock isn’t well suited for use by New York Waterway.
In an interview, we asked FBW Executive Director Ron Hine what message he and the organization would be stressing to residents during their open house at the old Neumann Leathers building.
“We’re trying to bring attention to the Union Dry Dock issue, it’s one of the last pieces of the waterfront park that we’re trying to complete, and it’s been an ongoing battle dating back to November 2017 when New York Waterway purchased the site,” began Hine.
“It’s very important that we bring the public’s attention to the issue, that they understand the details of it. Because if they did, I think the solution is really simple. [NY Waterway] can choose to re-locate to the Hoboken Terminal, considered the best option of all, [they can go] to Binghamton ferry site in Edgewater, Greenville Pier in Jersey City and the two sites in Weehawken, one of which they already occupy.”
It’s been almost a year since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has said anything publicly about the ongoing drama over potentially establishing a ferry refueling and repair terminal for NY Waterway at Union Dry Dock.
The open house, which was scheduled weeks ago, comes on the heels of the City of Hoboken issuing no work permits after two NY Waterway ferries were spotted at Union Dry Dock earlier this month.
Additionally, on Saturday, March 9th, FBW along with Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse and Resilience Paddle Sports, is organizing a citywide march at Pier A Park to send a message to Murphy regarding the aforementioned plan.
Advocates such as FBW believe that the Union Dry Dock is too important an ecological site to support heavy industrial use, while the NY Waterway CEO Arthur Imperatore believes that a ferry maintenance terminal at Union Dry Dock is not only critical to the maintain the company’s fleet, but represents the last vestige of industrial activity on the Hoboken waterfront.
As residents mingled during the open house, they were instructed by FBW staff to fill out postcards that contained a message of protecting the waterfront, with their names and addresses so that they could be mailed directly to the governor.
“We’re trying to convince the Governor and other state officials that the Union Dry Dock site is the absolutely wrong place to put [a ferry maintenance facility],” Hine noted.
We also asked Hine to respond to Imperatore’s claim to maintain some form of industrial use along the waterfront.
“Well, you still have that at the Hoboken Terminal, and that’s 88 acres owned by NJ Transit and you have a multimodal transportation hub: it’s designated for this kind of purpose,” Hine said.
“The rest of Hoboken’s Waterfront has been transformed. When we first started in 1990, none of Hoboken’s waterfront had been developed. It was a former industrial, maritime site with all kinds of companies that were repairing ships and ocean liners, and all that activity took place for nearly a century,” said Hine.
“But that’s all changed now. Hoboken made a commitment to develop a residential and commercial development and the other part, something we have been advocating for three decades, is to complete a contiguous public waterfront park from one end to the other, and we now have that opportunity to do that. Union Dry Dock would be one of the final pieces to make the waterfront contiguous,” Hine explained.
“To put an industrial operation at that location right in the middle of where our waterfront park should go would just be a colossal mistake.”
A spokesman for the governor’s office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.